Sr. Rose Mary Sam, IHM

In 1968, while studying on scholarship in France, Sister Rose Mary Sam, IHM, joined thousands of pilgrims and volunteers from around the world to visit Lourdes and the holy places associated with Our Lady’s apparitions to Saint Bernadette. That sojourn inspired Sister’s 45-year legacy of helping others achieve a transformative spiritual journey of hope, healing, and reconciliation.

Like many pilgrims, after experiencing the blessings and deep spirituality of Lourdes, Sister was moved to return to be immersed in the grace of the sacred grounds. Her epiphany became a mission to minister to others through works of charity, care and compassion.

Sr. Rose Mary Sam’s career as a teacher of Religion, Spanish and French spans more than 50 years at numerous Michigan Catholic high schools including Bishop Gallagher (Harper Woods), Notre Dame (Harper Woods), and Regina (Harper Woods, Warren). Over 44 summers, Sister’s students, their parents, fellow parishioners and friends from these schools were inspired to accompany her to Lourdes to serve as volunteers at Cité Saint-Pierre (nicknamed “City of the Poor”), a hostel nestled in the Pyrenees foothills.

Cité Saint-Pierre was established in 1956 by Bishop Jean Rodhain to fulfill St. Bernadette’s vocation to share the Lourdes apparitions with “the poorest of the poor.” At this welcoming refuge, individuals and families who cannot afford accommodations at Lourdes receive food, shelter, medical support, and spiritual guidance during their pilgrimage.

Sr. Rose Mary Sam with Archbishop Allen Vigneron

Devoted volunteers such as Sister Rose Mary Sam assure that Cité Saint-Pierre will continue to offer care and sanctuary to pilgrims of all cultures and backgrounds, and guide them to a transformative source of spirituality rooted in the experiences of St. Bernadette.

Through the joy of the Holy Spirit, the Our Lady of Lourdes Pilgrimage charitable fund was created at the Catholic Foundation of Michigan to support and continue the 45-year mission of Sr. Rose Mary Sam. The charitable fund will help provide University of Detroit Mercy students with an opportunity to join medical professionals in caring for the sick and dying who have journeyed to Our Lady of Lourdes, France. “The spiritual impact of this transformational experience will enrich and empower their vocational calling and personal life,” shares Rosanne Bommarito Brugnoni, creator of the fund.

While many legacy funds are created in memory of someone after they have died, Rosanne chose to create this fund in honor of Sr. Sam while she is still living. Past students, friends, and colleagues have been inspired to support this meaningful cause. You too can become a part of this living legacy.

Your support will honor the compassionate legacy of Sister Rose Mary Sam and help extend the spiritually transformative experience of volunteerism at Lourdes to future generations of healthcare professionals. Award recipients will undertake a well-planned, enriching journey to Lourdes with the Order of Malta American Association; and may have an opportunity to share their time at Cité Saint-Pierre with Sister Rose Mary Sam.

To learn more about this fund and the inspiration behind it, scroll down to hear directly from the creator of the fund. 

What compelled you to create this fund?

In 2017, I was invited by Sr. Sam to join her on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Lourdes; it was during a difficult time in my life and it allowed an opportunity for reflection and reconciliation. My daughter, who was entering nursing school and had previously volunteered in underserved countries joined me on the trip. It was an inspiration to witness pilgrims visiting the sacred grounds and for many, praying for healing during submersion in the ‘baths.’ The vision was to create a scholarship fund – while Sr. Rose Mary Sam was still alive – to honor Sister’s 45-year legacy and create an opportunity for medical professionals to accompany the sick and dying on a journey of hope and healing. 

Why did you choose to work with the Foundation?

The Foundation provided the perfect landscape to work with other local organizations that shared a similar vision. Instead of creating a separate trust or 501(c)(3) organization, establishing a fund with the Foundation, a known organization in the region, enabled collaboration with other organizations in creating the scholarship fund.

There was a high level of trust and confidence that the Foundation’s dedicated staff would professionally administer and honor the intent of the fund. The collaboration that we were able to create with the University of Detroit and the Order of Malta for health care scholarship recipients was beyond the expectations of the fund’s initial vision!

What do you love most about Sr. Sam? 

Once you meet her, you can’t wait to see her again to share stories and laugh – or cry – over life’s experiences. She has touched so many lives through the years; I love Sister most for her friendship, ability to accompany pilgrims to Lourdes and her dedication to City of the Poor in their mission to offer care and sanctuary to pilgrims of all cultures and backgrounds. Sister Sam is a true inspiration!

What would you say to others who are inspired by this fund?

Become part of the Living Legacy to honor Sister Rose May Sam’s 45-year legacy of helping others achieve a transformative, spiritual journey of hope, healing, and reconciliation. The charitable fund is a mechanism for gifting that will communicate your charitable values by assisting with underwriting pilgrimages and ministry work at Our Lady of Lourdes, France.